Wednesday’s People: Saints Cunegund and Henry

by Melanie on August 2, 2017

in Catholicism, Nonfiction, Saints, Sisterhood of Saints, Spirituality, Wednesday's Woman

Note: I’m currently featuring women saints who had notable relationships with male saints–their sons, husbands, fathers, or colleagues in faith.

The Basics: Cunegund, born about 975 in Germany; died 1033 in Germany; canonized March 29, 1200, by Innocent 3; feast day, March 3. Empress, wife, woman religious. Henry, born May 6, 973 in Germany; died 1024 in Germany; canonized in 1146 by Eugene III; feast day, July 13. Emperor, husband.

The Story: Their positions in the world, given the times, would make you think their household would have been filled with children. But that wasn’t the case with Cunegund and Henry, who were married about 998 when they were both in their twenties. Henry had succeeded his father as duke of Bavaria in 995 in somewhat of a surprise; family intrigue earlier had made it much more likely he would become a priest, and indeed, by all indications, his education by Wolfgang of Regensberg, later canonized, greatly influenced his worldview. Henry became king of Germany in 1002 and twelve years later, he and Cunegund were crowned as emperor and empress of the Holy Roman Empire. And yet, no children. Not a single one.

Lost to the mists of time is any real evidence as to whether they mutually agreed to chastity, or one or both were infertile. In any event, both were devoted to the Catholic Church. They founded Germany’s Bamberg Cathedral as well as a couple of monasteries. A year after Henry’s death, Cunegund retired to one of those monasteries, where she became a Benedictine nun and lived out her days in obscurity, as she desired.

Henry’s Words about Cunegund: It is said that when Henry was near death, he told her family as well as other leaders of the empire: “I give back to you and to God this holy virgin, who was lent to me by Christ.”

What We Can Learn from Cunegund and Henry: You’ll find numerous theories about their marriage if you search online. What’s more important is that in a time when producing an heir was critical, they remained together and worked to show God’s goodness to their subjects.

To Learn More About Cunegund and Henry: Read about them in Fedinand Holbock’s Married Saints and Blesseds Through the Centuries and at the site for Bamberg Cathedral, where they are interred.

To Learn More About Other Women Saints and Blesseds: Come back next week, or consider buying my book, Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration.

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